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Russia ‘Regrets’ UN Draft Rejection To Stop Turkish Military Actions In Syria

Dmitry Peskov, Russia's presidential spokesman.

Russia has expressed regret that the United Nations Security Council rejected its bid to stop Turkey’s military actions against Syria.

Western powers turned down a Russian draft resolution presented at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on February 19 aimed at stopping Turkey’s cross-border shelling of Syrian Kurds.

Western powers also called on Moscow to stick with plans for a truce in Syria, however the February 19 deadline for honoring the cease-fire passed with little sign of compliance.

"We can only express regret that this draft resolution was rejected," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on February 20.

Peskov said that Russia was “concerned at the growing tension at the Syrian-Turkish border.”

He said that Russia will continue its support for President Bashar al-Assad’s ground offensive.

Western powers said Moscow's backing of the Syrian ground war, even as it supposedly was negotiating a cease-fire at the UN, is what caused an escalation of the conflict.

"We are facing a dangerous military escalation that could easily get out of control and lead us to uncharted territory," French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said.

Delattre said that Turkey's bid to intervene in the conflict was the "direct result of the brutal offensive in the north of Syria led by the Syrian regime and its allies."

"Russia must understand that its unconditional support to Bashar al-Assad is a dead-end and a dead-end that could be extremely dangerous," he said.

He warned that a continued failure to honor the truce negotiated last week could lead to "a full regional conflagration."

In a sign that all sides no longer expect to return to peace negotiations any time soon, the UN's Special Envoy for Syria Steffan de Mistura formally cancelled a round of talks that had been tentatively scheduled for February 25.

While rebuking Russia for going after Turkey at the UN, the White House announced that U.S. President Barack Obama had spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on February 19 and urged him to stop shelling Kurdish militias in the Syrian border region.

While Obama agreed with Erdogan that the Kurdish militias "should not seek to exploit circumstances in this area to seize additional territory," he urged Turkey to "show reciprocal restraint by ceasing artillery strikes in the area."

Turkey's shelling has exposed a deep rift between Washington and its NATO ally. While Turkey regards the Kurdish YPG militia forces in Syria as allies of outlawed terrorist groups in Turkey, the United States has worked with the YPG in a successful campaign to regain Syrian territory taken over the Islamic State group in 2014.

U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, in fact, routed IS out the Syrian town of Shaddadeh, the militant group's last stronghold in the northeastern province of Hassakeh, after a fierce battle on February 19, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa
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